MP Jenny Kwan (Right) and TADC Winnie Ng (Left)
Press conference in August launching the petition in Toronto with VSSDM Mabel Tung, TADC Winnie Ng and MP Jenny Kwan
MP Jenny Kwan tables petition e-4534 Parliament, urging the federal government to expedite legislation on foreign agent registration
A petition campaign initiated by multiple pro-democracy and human rights groups calls for the Liberal government to launch an independent public inquiry on foreign interference and establish a foreign agent registration law. Supported by Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan, community groups from Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto started a petition on the Parliament website to allow citizens to express their support.
Over two months, a total of 5,799 citizens threw their support behind this call for action. This is more than double the number of signatures that oppose the establishment of a foreign agent registration law.
Mabel Tung, Chairperson of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movements, expressed satisfaction with receiving twice the number of citizen support in such a short period of time. She noted that the opposing team collected signatures for three months but only managed to gain the participation of over 2,000 people reflects the lack of public support for their stance. Tung believes that the public statement expressed by Senator Yuen Pau Woo and others, in their misplaced bid to show support for the Chinese Community Party, that the passage of Foreign Influence and Transparency Registry legislation is akin to the Chinese Exclusion Act from a hundred years ago is not only absurd, but also helped Canadians to better understand the need for legislation.
Teacher Tong, Chairperson of Calgary’s Movement for Democracy in China, pointed out that those community groups supporting the Chinese Communist Party often boast about their high number of supporters. When compared to support for petition e-4534, however, the much lower number of signatures on the petition that opposes a foreign agent registry law shows that opposition to the legislation is not so widespread.
Cheuk Kwan is Co-Chairperson of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China. Kwan stated that the Parliamentary Committee recently released a report after conducting hearings on foreign interference, recommending the federal government to promptly establish a foreign agent registry. The report suggested implementing new criminal law for all foreign interference actions, including harassment and intimidation, as well as holding online platforms accountable for disseminating false information. Even though the Conservative Party of Canada opposes the last recommendation, Cheuk Kwan believes they are all effective measures against foreign interference.
Regarding this petition campaign, MP Jenny Kwan expresses gratitude to the organizations and their volunteers for their dedication and efforts. She said, "For those who openly criticize human rights violations, and are concerned about the genocide of Uyghurs, erosion of the 'One Country, Two Systems' policy in Hong Kong, and the implementation of the Hong Kong national security law, we must be vigilant and be on guard about such foreign forces. Foreign actors will try to coerce, co-op, reorient, neutralize, or even silence our voices. We must not allow foreign interference to suppress our voices and deter us from fighting for those who do not enjoy basic human rights. The Liberal government must table and pass Foreign Interference and Transparency Registration legislation this fall. Foreign interference is real, and we must take all necessary actions to address it."